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Kings continue surge, top Avalanche for 6th in row

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER -- The Los Angeles Kings continued their late-season surge in pursuit of a Stanley Cup Playoff position with a 4-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Wednesday.

The Kings (27-18-12), who have outscored opponents 23-12 during a six-game winning streak, have the same points total as the San Jose Sharks (66).

The Avalanche (24-23-11), who had won two games in a row, are seven points behind the Kings and Sharks.

The Kings' "That 70s Line" of Jeff Carter, Dwight King and Tyler Toffoli accounted for three goals and two assists, all in the second period except for Carter's empty-net goal on a power play with 52.3 seconds left. The three have combined for 13 goals and 13 assists during the winning streak.

"With the way the schedule is and the season is, you need something out of everybody," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "That's what you're seeing, some balance out of the forwards."

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick made 42 saves, 18 in the second period.

"We know what he's going to do, make some huge saves throughout the game for us," Toffoli said. "Without him, we wouldn’t have finished the game where we were. He comes up big for us when we need it and we score big goals for him."

The Avalanche went 3-0-1 in their four previous games this season when they had 40 or more shots.

"The way we played offensively, I thought the guys deserved a lot better," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "Their goalie played really well, he made a lot of good saves. That's part of the game sometimes. I can't complain. I understand it's frustrating because that was a big game for us and I'm very happy with the effort. I thought we did a lot of good things, but nothing to show for it tonight."

The Kings spotted the Avalanche an early first-period goal by Gabriel Landeskog and responded with three goals in the second to seize control.

"They came out hard," said Toffoli, who had a goal and an assist. "It wasn't our best start. We knew going into the second we had to be a lot better and I think we showed that. We showed a lot of heart and grit and found a way to win."

Carter tied the game 1-1 at 1:16 of the second period when he tipped Toffoli's shot behind goalie Semyon Varlamov. King corralled the puck after it bounced by Landeskog and passed to Toffoli, who shot from the high slot.

"That kind of deflated us a little bit, but I think we had enough chances and scoring chances to tie this thing up," Landeskog said. "Offensively we threw as much as we could at (Quick). The things we've been talking about offensively we were doing tonight. It didn't seem to bounce our way."

The Kings took a 2-1 lead at 6:24 when Toffoli skated down right wing, cut inside the defense and went to the net untouched. He jammed the puck by Varlamov's outstretched right pad.

"It was a little chip behind the (defense)," Toffoli said. "I got behind them and snuck it in."

Dustin Brown scored at 15:30 during a delayed penalty off a feed from Drew Doughty, who skated behind the net and passed through a pack of players in front. Brown knocked in the puck from just outside the crease.

Landeskog extended his goal-scoring streak to four games at 3:09 of the first period. He accepted a pass from Nathan MacKinnon in the left circle and beat Quick with a shot to the short side. MacKinnon has an assist in four consecutive games.

The play began in the Kings end when Avalanche defenseman Nick Holden knocked down King with a big hit in the corner.

The Avalanche applied plenty of pressure on a power play after Justin Williams tripped Ryan O'Reilly at 8:41, forcing Quick to make five saves.

"I think the penalty kill in the first period was pretty important," Sutter said. "Jonathan was a great penalty killer. Give the penalty killers some credit too, not single one player out."

The Avalanche went 0-for-3 on power plays with seven shots after breaking a 0-for-32 slump that covered 11 games against the Arizona Coyotes on Monday.

"All night the power play was phenomenal," Roy said. "I hope guys are going to go home tonight feeling good about how they played on the power play. I thought we did everything. We had a lot of shots, one-timers, bodies in front of the net. Unfortunately for us tonight, the puck didn't bounce our way, but I think we can build on that."

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